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EVENT: The Security Implications of the Pakistan Floods: A Roundtable Discussion

By Elsa Barron

Pakistan has been hit with unprecedented levels of flooding over this summer’s monsoon season, submerging one-third of the entire country under water. Already, one early attribution study has linked this disaster to climate change, finding that this severity of flooding is extremely unlikely without existing global temperature rise. 

While the scale of the disaster is linked to climate change, the scale of the disaster’s impact is linked to poor governance, writes Jumaina Siddiqui. The politically unstable government in Pakistan has failed to develop comprehensive resilience measures, even after similar extreme flood events of the past. 

This has led to devastating humanitarian costs, and yet that is not the end of the potential risks. As Erin Sikorsky and Andrea Rezzonico write, “These climate hazards will compound existing challenges in the country, including political instability, Islamic extremism, and nuclear security.” Given such intersecting risks, it is critical to take a holistic climate security approach to the current crisis in Pakistan. As Ameera Adil and Faraz Haider write, Pakistan’s climate security threats should inspire a rethink of comprehensive national security. 

In order to discuss these articles and themes, the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) will convene a public roundtable discussion on Friday. September 30th, from 9 to 10 am EST on “The Security Implications of the Pakistan Floods.” The expert panel, moderated by CCS Director Erin Sikorsky, will include: 

  • Ameera Adil, Assistant Director Sustainability at National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan
  • Faraz Haider, Research Associate, Faculty of Aerospace and Strategic Studies, Air University, Islamabad
  • Andrea Rezzonico, Deputy Director, Converging Risks Lab, Council on Strategic Risks
  • Jumaina Siddiqui, Senior Program Officer, South Asia United States Institute of Peace

We hope that you will join us for this event. Please register here to access the full invitation and webinar details. 

BRIEFER: The Security Implications of the Pakistan Floods

By Andrea Rezzonico and Erin Sikorsky
Edited by Francesco Femia

The tragedy unfolding in Pakistan in the wake of unprecedented flooding late last month, which has inundated a third of the country and displaced millions of people, is not only a humanitarian catastrophe but also poses significant security threats. Already before the floods, South Asia experienced record breaking heat waves in April and May, leading to unbearable living conditions, widespread energy blackouts, and rapid glacial melt. These climate hazards will compound existing challenges in the country, including political instability, Islamic extremism, and nuclear security.

Given these dynamics, efforts to address the immediate humanitarian crisis as well as develop longer-term climate adaptation and resilience measures are not just the right thing for Western countries to do—such investments will also provide security benefits as they contribute to a more stable Pakistan in the future. In particular, the United States must live up to its climate finance commitments, and better integrate climate considerations into the range of engagements it has with Pakistan, including ongoing military training and support.

The Future of Research on Climate Change and Armed Conflict

Pakistan flood relief

U.S. Marines unload food and supplies for Pakistani flood victims in support of the flood relief effort in Pano Aqil, Pakistan, Sept. 11, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jason Bushong

By Dr. Marc Kodack

As military planners look out to future operating environments that they may face, they need to continue to anticipate the changing social, environmental, political, and economic conditions that populations may experience when these populations are increasingly affected by climate change. Climate change will dynamically influence many societal variables including migrationfood security, and conflict. Planners may be particularly drawn to the causes of conflict. Mach et. al (2020) present four areas of future research that would assist planners with better understanding the relationship between climate change and armed conflict.

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Briefer: India, Climate Change and Security in South Asia

India_heat_wave_610_2015

Hottest daytime high temperature during May 24-30, 2015. NOAA

By David Antos, Guest Author, The Center for Climate and Security

South Asia faces a wide array of social, political, and economic issues that already threaten security in the region. The region has a history of border disputes, sectarian violence, and government corruption. In addition, population increases continue to stress the growing problems associated with urbanization, such as poor sanitation, the spread of disease, resource allocation, and meeting energy demands. The region is also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In this context, climate change could exacerbate existing insecurities in South Asia, and potentially heighten the likelihood of instability.  To read more, click here for the full briefer, “India, Climate Change and Security in South Asia.”

 

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